State to end contact tracing; local health councils to take over
While the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing program is expected to end at the end of the year, Cambridge and several other communities are joining forces to have their own program.
The MA Community Tracing Collaborative, at the start of the pandemic, helped local public health departments trace contacts as the pandemic escalated in April 2020, according to a statement by a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Health and state social services.
“At that time, testing capacity was limited, treatment interventions minimal, and no vaccine,” the statement said. “Today, Massachusetts is a national leader in the administration of free vaccines and tests, and the second-lowest hospitalization and COVID case rate in the country. To date, more than one million cases and contacts have been identified for follow-up by local health departments and the CTC. “
But with the evolution of the pandemic over the past year and a half, the state plans to phase out the program by the end of the year.
“To prepare for this transition, the administration has allocated more than $ 15 million in federal and state resources to local boards of health to strengthen local case investigation and contact tracing capacities, and the Department of Public Health is preparing to allocate an additional $ 4 million to boards of health for these efforts, ”the statement said.
For Cambridge, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop, the communities plan to hire several contact tracers and case investigators who will help the four municipalities, according to Cambridge Public Health Department spokeswoman Susan Feinberg in a statement.
“In addition, the group will be assisted by a number of care resource coordinators and technical assistance from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council,” she wrote.
From April 2020 to now, the state program and local public health departments have traced and found contacts for 1.1 million cases of COVID-19, with more than 2.6 million phone calls to cases and their contacts. About 35 percent was done by local boards of health. More than 713,000 cases and contacts of COVID-19 have been identified by CTC contact tracers, and 82% of this awareness has been completed.
The CLC will no longer take new cases as of November 30.
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